My daughter drove home from college today. This got me thinking about her car ride. It usually clocks in at about three hours and 45 minutes – maybe four hours if you factor in a bathroom break to stretch your legs.
It’s a beautiful ride, with mountains, streams and lovely upstate New York vistas to admire along the way. But other than admiring the scenery, the question frequently is how to pass the time while driving.
Music – The most obvious choice is to listen to music. Zipping down the highway nestled among mountains renders traditional radio stations unreliable. In the many years since I first got my driver’s license, I’ve listened to over-the-air radio stations, satellite radio like Sirius XM, 8-track tapes, cassette tapes and compact discs. Even though our cars still have compact disc players, I can’t imagine carrying and swapping out discs every 45 minutes or so while driving. Luckily, we live in an age where you can carry thousands of songs downloaded to your phone. On top of that, we also have streaming music services like Spotify and Apple music that provide an endless supply of songs. I’m 100% sure that my daughter listened to music for the entire duration of her trip, singing along and/or harmonizing with each song as she went. Personally, while I sometimes listen to music on the road, it tends to become tedious on long car rides so I look for other options.
Books On Tape – Some people I know swear by Books On Tape. I’m dating myself by calling them that. Obviously we don’t list “on tape” any longer. I’m of course referring to digital recordings of books that are read by famous actors, personalities or even sometimes the author himself/herself. While this may be satisfying to some, I have found my limited attempts to listen to books while on the road to be a frustrating experience. The problem, I find, is that someone reading a book often actually takes 20+ hours to listen to. It is great when you are in the car but once you get where you are going, how are you supposed to finish it? Chip off 15 minutes at time while running errands? Listen to it 30 minutes at a shot while riding a train? Unless you have a VERY long road trip ahead of you, books on tape are not my entertainment of choice.
Podcasts – As you may have guessed, my preference these days is to listen to podcasts while on the road. They cover all manner of topics and can range from interviews to performance to news. My personal favorites these days are The Daily (New York Times daily news podcast which focuses on a single news item each day), WTF with Marc Maron (interviews with celebrities and stand up comics that are (most often) entertaining and insightful, especially about how these people got to where they are today) and Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard (interviews with celebrities but also with documented experts on a given topic; the non-celebrity experts are often the ones that are most interesting because they frequently help dispel myths and share previously-unknow facts and stories).
What is your preferred vehicle for entertainment while on the road?
Thanks for reading.